Purdue part of Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative and Kickoff at State House

April 2, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University is a partner of this year's Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative and kickoff event featuring free haircuts and health screenings at the Indiana State House on April 11.

Gov. Mike Pence and state health commissioner Dr. William VanNess will speak at the event, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the South Atrium of the Indiana State House. The event includes free glucose screenings, blood pressure checks and prostate cancer health information, as well as free haircuts and facial hair trims.

The Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative promotes health awareness and encourages action to reduce the impact of chronic diseases that disproportionately affect African-American men in Indiana.

Teasa Thompson, the program manager of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research's Affecting Cancer Together barbershop initiative and Indiana's prostate cancer health education specialist, will be at the event offering information about cancer and ways to improve one's health.

Through Purdue's Affecting Cancer Together program, or ACT, Indianapolis-area barbers have volunteered to become lay health motivators who approach their clients, friends and family to raise awareness of prostate cancer, answer questions and dispel myths about the screening process. More than 100 barbershops participate in the program.

"Barbers are important and trusted information sources within their communities and have the ability to reach individuals that other awareness campaigns haven't been able to touch," Thompson said.

Through ACT Purdue leads a team of organizations that collaborate to provide prostate cancer prevention and care in Indiana. The program aims to reduce health disparities and inequities from cancer for all Hoosiers, including prostate cancer, and targets African-American and Hispanic communities because of the higher rates of death from prostate cancer in these populations, said Timothy Ratliff, the Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research who also will be attending the kickoff event.

"Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, and Marion County has the highest incidence and mortality rate in the state," said Ratliff, who lost his father-in-law to prostate cancer. "We want to reduce the toll this disease takes on this community and our state. The more people talk about it with their friends, family, neighbors and clients, the more lives we can save."

The ACT program includes cancer awareness, prevention and education and connects people to free screening services. Those diagnosed are connected with financial services, if needed, and health care professionals who can answer questions and discuss treatment options.

ACT is a leading partner for the Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative and is the sponsor of a free prostate cancer screening after the kickoff event from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Haircutting Co. at 5035 West 71st Street in Indianapolis. An additional free screening will be held in South Bend from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 13 at Inspiration Barber Salon on 303 Chapin Street. The screenings in both locations will take place on the Rev. Charles William's Prostate Cancer Mobile Unit.

More information about the upcoming screenings is available online at http://www.cancerresearch.purdue.edu/about/act or by calling 1-855-252-8228.

The screenings are done in collaboration with the Marion County Public Health Department, Indiana University Simon Cancer Center Urology Department, Saint Joseph Minority Health Coalition and Michiana Hematology and Oncology.

In 2012 the Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative was held in nine Indiana cities and 748 people received health screenings. This year, 12 cities throughout Indiana and more than 50 barbershops will participate. The initiative is a collaborative effort led by the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males in conjunction with many agencies throughout the state.

Writer: Elizabeth K. Gardner, 765-494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu

Sources: Teasa Thompson, 855-252-8228, tthompson@purdue.edu

Timothy Ratliff, 765-494-9129, tlratliff@purdue.edu

Related release: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/outreach/2011/111206RatliffACT.html

Related video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnpskxqAIgg&feature=youtube

Related website: Barbershops participating in Indiana Black Barbershop Health Initiative

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